Fianna Fáil Spokesperson on Social Protection Barry Cowen has said the ‘Pathways to Work’ strategy is an inadequate response to what is a grave unemployment crisis.
Deputy Cowen has pointed out that the scheme is simply a repackaging of several previous announcements on education and training for the long-term unemployed.
“Fianna Fáil fully supports meaningful efforts to tackle unemployment and use labour activation measures to reduce long-term unemployment. However, this is an incoherent response from this Government to what is a very grave unemployment crisis.
“Pathways to Work is simply a repackaging of a range of existing schemes offering job placements and training to the unemployed. It offers no new opportunities, but simply re-announces the places available on Job Bridge, Tús, the National Internship Scheme, the Rural Social Scheme, Solas and Springboard.
“This document raises more questions than it answers. It is jam packed with fluff and no real policy detail. There is no detail on how the department will ensure that work placements are effective for the job-seekers involved. There is no detail on a possible ‘payment by results’ initiative. There is a promise to realign a third of CE schemes, while at the same time the CE schemes are decimated all over the country. Meanwhile the initiative emphasises the critical role of education in tackling unemployment, yet the government cut the Back to Education Allowance in December’s budget.
“Minister Bruton has clearly been gathering a range of previous announcements and is repackaging them into this document, in line with the Government’s ongoing focus on putting PR first. I can see very little change to the current procedures on getting people back to work.
“It will come as a surprise to the country’s social welfare staff that they have not always been required to match a job-seekers’ skills to the opportunities available! Similarly, when did social welfare staff stop following up with all job-seekers, particularly the long-term unemployed?
“As with so much of what comes out of Government Buildings these days, the headline is good, but the substance simply isn’t there.”